A young woman who attempted to kill her older sister by pouring boiling water on her and repeatedly stabbing her during a 2020 attack was sentenced Monday to 30 years in prison.
Blessing Jay Yoder, 20, admitted to the July 5, 2020 attack that left her sister, Laura Thorpe, 31, both physically and emotionally scarred.
Montgomery Circuit Court Judge Harry Siamas accepted a plea deal that includes Yoder taking responsibility for the attempted murder charge — the most serious of the charges filed against her. In exchange, three other felony charges — aggravated battery, battery by means of a deadly weapon and battery resulting in serious bodily injury — were dismissed.
Yoder must spend a minimum of 20 years in the Indiana Department of Corrections. That portion of her sentence cannot be modified or suspended. The remaining 10 years of the sentence will be served on probation.
Upon her release from prison, Yoder was ordered not to have contact with her sister. She was given 138 days credit for time served. Her sentence also was ordered to be served consecutive with a prior sentence from Cook County, Illinois, for possession of a stolen vehicle, which is related to the local case.
“I regret it and I’m sorry,” Yoder said in a prepared statement she read in court.
She added she plans to make better choices in the future; hopes her sister will forgive her someday; and thanked her family for their support.
Yoder, who had just turned 18 in March 2020, was living with Thorpe in an apartment on the city’s east side. The two worked at a local factory and were sharing household expenses. Thorpe testified that the only friction between the two seemed to be over finances after Yoder became unemployed.
Yoder had spent July 4, 2020 at their adopted mother’s home in Jamestown and had called Thorpe for a ride back to the apartment. However, Thorpe was working and wasn’t able to pick up Yoder until July 5, 2020. The two went back to the apartment, where Thorpe said she slept a bit before starting dinner and preparing to go back to work. Thorpe testified that the two sisters were preparing their dinners when she left the kitchen to go to the bathroom. Yoder proceeded to come into the bathroom and poured boiling water on Thorpe. She then began stabbing Thorpe with one of two kitchen knives.
Thorpe told the court she eventually used a laundry basket as a barrier to thwart the attack as she fled to her bedroom and called for help.
When police arrived at the apartment in the 200 block of Knoll Circle, they found Thorpe with significant bleeding from multiple stab wounds to the face, neck, shoulders and upper body. Thorpe testified she had 10 stab wounds. Thorpe also sustained severe burns on her left shoulder and chest from a boiling liquid.
A kitchen knife with stains “consistent to blood” was recovered from the home, and subsequent interviews with neighbors resulted in a photograph of Yoder from a doorbell camera, court records show.
Crime technicians also recovered a handwritten “to do” list at the shared dwelling. At the top of the list, the words “kill Laura” were visible. Also on the list were entries to “clean apartment pack up” and “move to Florida.”
Thorpe sustained a large laceration on the right side of her face near her eye, and that several blisters were seeping onto her face. She had a significant cut to her left shoulder and small laceration in her armpit area, according to court documents.
“It appeared that a knife had entered through the shoulder and punctured through to her underarm,” the probable cause affidavit reads.
By the morning of July 6, 2020, Thorpe was transported to Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis where her condition was listed as stable but critical. She was hospitalized for several days.
Yoder initially fled to Tippecanoe County, where she stole a car on July 6, 2020. That felony charge is still pending. Three days after the attack, Yoder was arrested at a hotel in the southwestern suburb of Countryside, Illinois, near Chicago, for possession of a stolen vehicle. She has since been sentenced to four years on that charge.
In his sentencing remarks, Siamas said the attack was “horrific to the victim ... she was going about her regular business at home where she and everyone expects to feel safe.”
Before issuing his sentence, Siamas cited Yoder’s young age as a mitigating factor, and that science has proven that minds aren’t fully formed at age 18.
“Eighteen-year-olds do things they wouldn’t ever consider doing later in life,” he said.
Siamas added that Yoder’s remorse seems genuine, she had no adult criminal record prior to the attack, nor did she have a substance abuse problem.
However, Siamas cited as aggravating factors other offenses stemmed from the original incident, the attack was not made in a spur of the moment and Yoder had made a to-do list.
Siamas said the advisory sentence of 30 years for the attempted murder charge was the correct sentence in this case.
The judge encouraged Yoder to take advantage of the programming that is offered in prison, so that she will be better prepared when she re-enters society.
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